There is a dangerous loophole in the R-1 and R-2 religious visa programs that have allowed them to be exploited by jihadists for decades. Most notably, Barack Obama granted more than 23,000 R-1 visas and over 7,000 R-2 visas between 2012 and 2016.
There are many of these little visa programs floating around that go unnoticed.
The R-1 visa program allows clerics to enter as long as they will engage in religious activities part-time or full-time. The entrants have to be members of a religious group tied to a nonprofit and they can remain in the country for five years. The families of the clerics can also enter.
After five years, they can apply for residency.
Security experts and religious leaders say jihadists are using the program to come into the U.S.
“People have come in and tried to come in with this visa to preach their hardline and dangerous views, and then encourage [the] vulnerable to travel back with them where they are further brainwashed and can potentially be used to harm the USA,” Adnan Khan, former president of the Council of Pakistan American Affairs, told Fox News. “The solution isn’t banning innocent Muslims and migration, but looking at visas like this one which have raised red flags and caused trouble in the past.”
Khan also said several letters have been written to federal agencies over the past four years concerning the R program, but they have failed to get a response.
“We want dialogue with Homeland Security and all the agencies on this,” he continued. “We want to be sure no one can come here and spread hate.”
Col. James Williamson, who founded a group that advocates for U.S. special forces, said the program, which was created in 1990, must be tightened because of the extent to which it makes the U.S. vulnerable to jihadi attacks.
“The administration should at least temporarily suspend this dangerous loophole in our immigration process,” he said. “But they should brace for backlash. In spite of applying equally to all religions, it’ll be maligned and portrayed as another form of a Muslim ban.”
This has been going on for years. In 2004, seven top officials of the Holy Land Foundation – then the largest Muslim charity in the country – were indicted for providing material and upward of $12 million in financial support to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. The indictment stated that several of the religious leaders established the now-defunct charity by submitting false R visa applications on behalf of more than 200 immigrants from the Middle East, Fox News reported.
Three years earlier, Muhammad Khalil, who ran a mosque in the basement of a Brooklyn store, was convicted in New York for filing over 200 falsified applications for fake jobs at his house of worship.
In 2007, after a lengthy investigation, Department of Homeland Security officials called the R visa program’s fraud rate “excessively high.”
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) March 15, 2017